Women and girls who have escaped from captivity by ISIS are among the most vulnerable members of society. While reporting about their fate is important and often may seem the only news that gets attention, their rights to privacy and protection of dignity and personal integrity must always come first.
Journalists have an obligation to respect these women and put their well-being first. In a society where honour is one of the most important assets, the identification of a person can destroy their future. Even if in the immediate aftermath the person feels giving their full name can do no further harm, journalists should always maintain the longer-term perspective for those they interview.
It is true that talking can have beneficial effects. But only if it is done in a process that is sensitive to the person and their trauma, under professional guidance, over extended periods of psychotherapeutic sessions in which the traumatic experience is carefully being explored. Here, the survivor learns how to cope with their trauma, while also developing a future perspective for their lives. Journalists should not pretend to do their interviewees a favour, but rather consult with experts before conducting these kind of interviews. Otherwise, they may do more harm than good.
"Why the double standard for victims overseas when this would never be allowed in the United States?" human rights lawyer Sherizaan Minwalla asks in her article "Has Anyone Here Been Raped by ISIS?" at The Daily Beast.